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Reports

Saturday, 29 June 2002
Kununarra --> Bungle Bungles bush, Travelabout Tour day 3, Australia

There was nothing against the tour company, the tour or the operator, but I just did not fit in the company of fellow passengers. Deciding to get off here is probably the biggest decision I have ever made in my 14 months of travelling the world. Why?


After packing up again at the Kununarra caravan park we have a quick stop to visit the Mirima National Park, also called Hidden Valley, a sort of miniature Bungle Bungles on a stone throw of Kununarra. I remember walking on the 750 metres dirt path to a lookout and David the tour operator said: "This is a very easy walk." I almost had to vomit when I heard one of the British say out loud: "Perfect. I like it when things are easy."

It was quite a drive from Kununurra to the Bungle Bungles. On the Northern Highway bound south we had a stop at the Turkey Creek Roadhouse (the roadhouse makes it a dot on my map!).

This is were I told Dave that he could drove me here in two days when we would leave the Bungle Bungles again and stop at this roadhouse again.
There was nothing against the tour company, the tour or the operator, but I just did not fit in the company of fellow passengers. Deciding to get off here is probably the biggest decision I have ever made in my 14 months of travelling the world. Why?

Because I'll be hitchhiking my way up to the west coast and then down south all the way to Perth (make it some 4,000 km). And remember, between Darwin and Perth I have absolutely NO money and NO places to stay for a day at all.

Just 30 minutes from the roadhouse Dave pulled over from the empty highway and ordered us all to gather wood for tonight's campfire. That was my call again! I jumped out of the truck and ran to the first dead tree I could find and hung on one its branches with my full 85kg. Before I knew I heard this big crack and the entire tree (!) came down before all the other passengers on the tour had gotten off the bus. "Yep, that will be enough," Dave said, and we started breaking the branches and loading it on top of the trailer.

It was in the dry high grass that I saw my first wild snake in Australia. A big fat brown one that swift its way through the field, away from all the noise I seem to be making.

Dave told me that the venomous snake, the real poison ones, always flee from humans. Pythons, for example, won't even harm you. Dave reckons I had just encountered a deadly brown snake. Crikey!

The British couple swore from now on never to touch any Australian grass ever again and they stayed on the pavement of the road the rest of the time.

Back in the bus I was the only dirty one, with bloody scratches on my hands, arms and legs. Just call it: experience.

We had lunch on the same vacant Northern Highway. Again there were flies everywhere, but as long as they don't have to eat them between my sandwiches it was okay with me. Dozens of flies gathered on some old wound of one of the Scottish Melbourne ladies. They just stayed stuck there whatever happened. "Hey! Look at your leg!" one said. "I know," the lady said, "as long as they are there they don't buzz around my head. My mother always said never to kill a fly, or forty of them will come to your funeral."

After lunch we crossed a 53km bumpy dirt track towards the Bungle Bungles National Park in more than two hours. It was near sunset when we arrived and choose a spot to camp for the coming two nights.

"A camp fire should be there to enjoy," says Dave as he lit the gas stove in the middle of the yellow grassed camp field in the Bungle Bungles National Park.

The Bungle Bungles are named after the Bundle Bundle flower, so somebody clearly made a typo! Once discovered in the 1980's by a Channel 9 camera crew – what don't they discover?). This area was once a limestone massif, but has been eroded and sculpted over millions of years into a multitude of red sandstone domes. Orange and black lichen rings around the domes add extra colour and a touch of the truly bizarre.

One of the British ladies is photographing a teddy bear that she had taken along from a school at home when we set up our tents. The quiet Daniela and me made the campfire and Dave threw a kettle of water in the heat. The warmth is keeping our souls warm as the sun had set and the cold surrounded us.

Dave tells us about the aboriginals that lived in this area the last 40,000 years or something like that. When the white Europeans settled around here they made the aboriginals help out on their cattle stations. To keep the abo's away from killing their own cattle, they were given meat. However, in the 1960's, some smart politicians decided that aboriginals should be receiving the same wages as anybody else who works that hard. And of course, the cattle station did not have that amount of money and the aboriginals were sent off the stations.

Only some fifteen years ago, the Aboriginals started to stand up for their rights and claimed back their original land back.

While listening to stories, enjoying dinner and watching the fire I decided to stay on the tour. I might as well just write about how great this tour is, about those frustrating classy manners of the British passengers and how I just go along without saying too much.

Daniela is not going to do the full 24-days trip to Perth. She gets off after the first 11 days in Broome. She has planned to drive the distance from Broome to Perth by herself in a car of her own.

The British man in the group is saying that he is missing the pub at home. I could just say out loud that he is in f*cking Australia and he should be f*cking enjoying the camping nights as you can sit in your f*cking British pub for the rest of your life!

But I did not say that, because I miss the pubs in my hometown too. That's where my friends are. BUT I DON'T BLEAT ABOUT IT IN PUBLIC!

From my paper notebook:
I am thinking about the time I have left in Australia. It will be July 20 when I'll arrive in Perth, meaning I'll have only 50 days left on my 6-months tourist via. It will then be hard to see lots of big cities like Adelaide, Melbourne and the capital city Canberra too. I might have to skip a lot or make big unpleasing jumps. Unless I visit New Zealand first, extend my Australian visa there (it can only be extended outside of Australia…) and hop back again for the remaining parts of the continent. I'll just have to find myself a sponsor to get me to New Zealand from Sydney… If that won't work out, the Australian immigration service will send me back to The Netherlands – escorted by the police…


Good night Bungle Bungles!

Ramon.